South Bay demolition fire leaves businesses in shambles, customers respond
SAN DIEGO – Firefighters described Saturday’s massive fire at a car demolition site in Otay Mesa as a “significant loss” for the company after more than 200 cars were set on fire in the blaze which also damaged a house.
Intense flames and thick black smoke, which could be seen billowing across South Bay and as far north as Clairemont Mesa, consumed an auto demolition yard and machine shop at 1950 Cactus Road after the outbreak of the third fire around noon.
“I knew something bad was burning, but I didn’t know it was that big,” said Abraheem Fadel, whose car was damaged in the blaze. “There are a lot of cars burning here. “
More than 200 cars were destroyed as flames rose against several houses, damaging the exterior of one.
“There was a very intense fire fight to defend these homes for over an hour,” said David Gerboth, assistant fire chief with the San Diego Fire Department.
At the height of the blaze, more than 150 firefighters attacked the blaze, both from the air and from the ground. The strong winds and the lack of water supply made it difficult for the firefighters.
“The embers that came out of the fire landed in the large adjacent field,” said Gerboth. “It started several wildfires, so we used specialized equipment to mitigate that. “
Although 20 people were evacuated, no injuries were reported, but the evacuees watched the crews defend people’s property. A man’s truck was spared.
“When I walked up and saw it all and my first thought was, my truck was in there, so I parked and walked in that direction and saw my truck, I was like ‘Oh my god he’s here’ so I was really happy, ”said Juan Carlos Guzman.
However, other customers weren’t so lucky. Fadel dropped off his car for repair earlier, but now takes more damage.
“There’s a bit of it at the back, but as long as it’s drivable,” said Fadel. “I don’t know about the condition because it has yet to be popped.”
Items like car tires, bumpers and propane tanks fueled the blaze, causing explosions and massive destruction in the fleet.
“I’m sad for the mechanic,” Guzman said. “He’s lost all the tools and everything, so I feel bad for him and all the people out there.”
There have been several fires in the area over the past few days and investigators are taking a fresh look at what exactly started the blaze.
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